December 20, 2018

FAIRY TALE FLASH - The Kiss by Carol J. Douglas

As the snow falls outside, you will
claim your bride under the mistletoe...

Baldur had almost given up hope. A single white berry remained on the mistletoe branch hanging above the doorway in the castle. His mother, the goddess Frigg, had promised him that on the occasion of his 21st birthday, he would claim his future bride with a kiss under the mistletoe. He had never doubted his mother, but now as the festivities were winding down, he feared that her promise would not come to pass. The tale was told often enough. Her tears had saved his life when the enemy shot an arrow made of mistletoe into his heart. But when Frigg had wept over him and her tears fell upon the arrow, they became white berries and touched his heart bringing it leaping back to life.
“My son lives,” cried Frigg kissing Baldur, “I vow to bless the mistletoe and promise a kiss to all who stand beneath it. True love will be found. But with each kiss a berry will be plucked from the branch until it is bare and any magic will cease.”
“I promise you Baldur, that when you celebrate your 21st birthday as the snow falls outside, you will claim your bride under the mistletoe.”
The party began with many comely young maidens in attendance. Much ale was drunk and many a lady warmed herself by the fire before stepping a little farther until she was just under the mistletoe. But each time Baldur saw one step beneath the mistletoe, another young man approached her more quickly and stole a kiss plucking the berry. They walked off together laughing in delight.
Staring glumly at the lone berry on the branch, Baldur noticed a shadow coming closer. His heart leapt, until he became aware that an elderly woman was walking slowly toward the mistletoe. She reached her destination and stood, leaning heavily on her cane.
“Alas,” she cried, “will no one come and kiss this withered cheek? I do not seek romance, only comfort for I have lost my beloved son and am deeply grieved.”
The men in attendance either looked away or pretended not to hear. But Baldur was moved by compassion. He recalled how his own mother had told him of her great sorrow when she had believed he was dead.
“Old woman,” he said striding to her side, “I offer you comfort in the name of my own mother.”   And with that he bent down and kissed her wrinkled cheek.
Suddenly, a beautiful maiden was looking into his eyes. She wrapped her arms around him and said, “I was told by a goddess that I would find my husband when he could see beyond youth and beauty and offer compassion to one who is grieving.”

With that she kissed Baldur fully on the lips. He was overjoyed and knew that he had found his beloved wife as he plucked the last berry from the mistletoe branch.

Carol J. Douglas writes from her home in Dublin, Ohio. She enjoys writing in many genres. Most of her published works are in Romance, Nonfiction and Children's poetry and stories. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Woman's World Magazine, and Guardian Angel Kids ezine as well as other publications. Carol has always enjoyed Mythology and Classic Ancient Tales.  

Cover: Amanda Bergloff

Cover Model: Emelia Douglas

December 18, 2018

DOUBLE FAIRY TALE FLASH - I (Don't) Remember by Caitlin Berve AND Frankincense by Ellie Goss

I remember water: dripping, flowing, moving. I don’t remember the cold wetness on my bare feet.

I remember brightness, blind moments, and reflections. I don’t remember the color of your eyes bordered by their mask.

I remember leaves soft with decay: russet, gold, bronze. I don’t remember running.

I remember the taste of sweat pooling in the corners of my mouth. I don’t remember my scent.

I remember wild laughter, bubbling from our chests. I don’t remember leaving with your name lost on my lips.

I remember dark fur or hair. I don’t remember where I left my changeling skin.
Owner of Ignited Ink Writing, Caitlin Berve is a freelance editor, fantasy writer, and creative writing instructor. She is dedicated to helping others transform their writing so it lingers with readers because writing that lingers gets remembered and recommended. She is vice president of the Boulder Writers Alliance and an active member of CIPA, Writers’ Idea Factory, and 30th Street Fiction writers’ critique group. With a MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics and bachelors in Biochemistry, she is constantly searching for the next story she can’t put down.

“Franky, where are you? Here kitty-kitty, oh come on Franky, I have to get to school. Here kitty-kitty,” implored Veronica.

The cat Frankincense watched the scene from his hiding spot. His large green eyes, if spotted, would give away his hiding spot. But if his senses were right, he wanted to be able to see what was coming, what was about to happen. While the usually sleek black fur on his back stood a little more upright than usual and his ears lay flat against his head, it took all of his control to prevent the low growl from being emitted from where it sat in his throat. It wouldn’t be long now.  

As the mist emerged from under the locked door to the apartment Franky changed his mind about staying where he was to watch. Instead, he slunk back further into the recess of the air vent located over his owner’s bed in the open plan studio.  

He heard the screams, and the manicured nails of the young girl rip through the floorboard timber, followed with the type of silence that exists in an inhabited apartment.

The hum of a refrigerator, the low buzz of electrical movement through television and radio. All the while his nose filled with the smell of frankincense, the burnt incense from the previous night’s seance.
Elisha A Tasmanian writer, nestled between the Tarkine Forest and Cradle Mountain National Park. She has worn many hats; home builder, youth worker, hotel manager and more, but now with a little more time and chill she is ready to return to those pursuits that whizzed passed earlier in her journey!
Follow her on Facebook: @1BunyipsBath

Follow her on Twitter @karenleestreet
Check out Karen's book
Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru HERE

December 16, 2018


Danger walked out in that night air,
and it was getting closer...
December had just begun, and the night air shivered with a promise of snow. I shuffled through the door, stoked a fire and opened a book of empty pages.

The minutes ticked by, filled only with the comfortable voice of the fire. I kept an eye on the door, half-expecting to hear a knock. I didn’t know when, but I knew I would have a visitor very soon. Danger walked out in that night air, and it was getting closer.

I heard nothing. I felt nothing. But as soon as he was there, I knew it.

“Just curious,” I said without looking up, “do you ever slide down the chimney?”

“When it suits me.”

The lumber of his cloven step shook the room. Chains about his person jingled like a reindeer’s harness. Horned, hairy and drooling, he carried with him the smell of snow and smoke and howling winds in the northern stars.

“You know who I am?” he asked.

“Of course. I’ve been expecting you for months.”

A moment passed as he looked about the room. He seemed to be searching for something. His penetrating gaze rolled over the fireplace, the hunting trophies, and the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, until he was looking directly at me.

“I thought you’d be here sooner,” I went on, “but I guess you only get one night of freedom.”

“You know why I’m here, don’t you?” he asked.

“Of course. You’re looking for something. Something you lost.”

“Not lost. Stolen.”

I eyed the basket he carried over his shoulder. “What makes you so sure it was me?”

“Knowing people’s hearts is part of who I am. You are the thief.”

“Okay, then. I admit it. I took them. All of them.”

His nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed. I knew what he wanted to do, and I knew why he couldn’t. I casually flicked a page in my book.

“Of all things…why would you take them?” he asked.

“I like to collect things,” I said. “Precious things. Magical things. I suppose, in a way, they give my life meaning.”
“Where are they?” he demanded. “Give them back!”

“They’re in here,” I said, passing him the book.

He glanced down, but he couldn’t see the pages, because he wasn’t there anymore. He was an illustration, ink and watercolors, snarling at the ceiling from within the pages of a book that lay collapsed on the floor.

I let out my breath and leaned back in my chair, alone once again.

I picked up the book and fanned through the pages. They were filled with words and pictures.

I closed it, and glistening in gold leaf on the front cover was one word: Krampus.

Smiling to myself, I approached my bookshelf. Names glinted in the firelight: Snow White, Mother Goose, The Headless Horseman, Santa Claus. Tiny voices seemed to flutter from within their pages.

I slipped my new prize onto the shelf and stood back, admiring my collection.

E.J. Hagadorn is the author of numerous works of fiction and poetry. He spends his spare time visiting dead authors and making webcomics.
Check out his websites: and
Follow him on Instagram: @oscar_and_edgar

Cover: Amanda Bergloff

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December 13, 2018

FAIRY TALE FOOD: The Gingerbread House by A.M. Offenwanger

Editor's Note: It's December, and it's the perfect time to make a gingerbread house! EC is pleased to showcase author A.M. Offenwanger's thoughts on fairy tales and food this month with her article that includes a recipe for a gingerbread house (originally published on her fabulous blog.)

“What came first,” my husband asked when I made this gingerbread house last year, “the pastry or the fairy tale?”
Good question. So I looked it up. According to the internet (scholarly fount of all wisdom), there isn’t any clear indication of when the first gingerbread house made its appearance on the scene of Christmas goodies, but it does seem that it was after the Grimms’ “Hansel and Gretel” became popular. Gingerbread men or other gingerbread figures for gift-giving had been around since the Middle Ages, more or less, but shaping it into a house and glueing candy on it seems to have been inspired by this lovely story of child abandonment, attempted infanticide, and cannibalism.
I have to say that that fairy tale was never one of my favorites – I prefer stories without bad guys, and this one has not only one very bad witch, but a nasty stepmother to boot. I did like Gretel’s bad-ass vanquishing of the witch, and the ending where Hansel and Gretel get home to their father and live happily ever after.
What I didn’t notice as a kid, though, was that Daddy isn’t that much of a good guy either. In fact, he’s an utter wet noodle; all his moaning and guilty conscience doesn’t make up for the fact that he lets his wife talk him into abandoning his kids in the forest. It even occurs to him that it would be better for him to share his last piece of bread with them and then starve together with them, but does he act on it? Not Mr Wet Dishrag, no. Standing up to the wife would require a backbone, and that he hasn’t got. Macbeth, indeed, has nothing on Hansel Sr.
Another thing I never knew is that originally, the Grimms told the story with the nasty wife being not the children’s stepmother, but their real, biological mother (the stepmother entered the narrative around 1843, according to Hans-Jörg Uther*). Now doesn’t that put a nice spin on the story? Your mom is feeling a bit peckish, so in order as not to starve, she sends you out into the woods to die. Oh yeah, and Daddy ties a stick to a tree that makes a tapping noise so you think your parents are still around, chopping wood, while they sneak away and leave you to your doom. You’d think the witch would come as somewhat of a welcome relief after that kind of loving home life… So that’s your tragic backstory, beforeyou even run into the cannibalistic witch with the overkill kiddie trap.
Oh yes, that trap? Grimms says specifically that the witch only built the bread house to lure children, not because it was her preferred construction material for superior country cottages. I’d call that overkill, wouldn’t you? Because, as I can tell you from experience, building a gingerbread house is a lot of work.
However, it’s also a lot of fun. Here is a relatively simple version (not cheap, because of the honey, but that does give it a great taste and texture). No windows made of spun-sugar “glass”, but hey, if you want, you can add those, too.
Incidentally, you might note there is no ginger in this “gingerbread” – there never is in German Lebkuchen. Just plenty of other spices, which were historically so expensive they were reserved for Christmas baking (and sometimes all lumped together under the term “pepper”, hence the alternative term “Pfefferkuchen” – pepper cake – for gingerbread. You might know it from “Pfeffernüsse“, the cookie).

Gingerbread House**

(this makes one large house plus several tiny ones and a bunch of gingerbread people or bears. For just a house, half the recipe will do. Imperial measurements are approximate.)
-1 kg (2 lbs) Honey
-250 ml (1 c) Water
bring to a boil; cool.
Mix/knead into:
-650 g (5 c) Rye Flour
-600 g (5 c) White Flour
-100 g (3 oz) each finely chopped Candied Lemon & Orange peel
-40 g (3 Tbsp) Lebkuchen-Spice (see below)***
-30 g (3 Tbsp) Baking Soda
Let rest for a few hours, up to a day or two.
For cookies or small gingerbread houses, roll out 1 cm (1/4″) thick, bake about 7-9 minutes at 400°F (200°C).
Dimensions for the large witch’s house:
Base plate, ca. 20×30 cm (8×12″), prick with fork, bake 12-18 minutes.
Roof (x2): 13×20 cm (5×8″).
House walls: (x2) 8×16 cm (3×6″); (x2) 16 cm (6″) wide with 16 cm (6″) high at the point of the gable.
Cut windows out of the side walls and a door out of one of the gable walls (can also be done immediately after baking). Bake ca. 12 min.
Make fence posts, window shutters, chimney pieces, small trees etc. out of the remaining bits of dough – maybe even a Hansel and Gretel and a witch?
Cool everything.
-500 g (1 lb) Icing Sugar
-2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
-3 Egg Whites
Mix together to thick consistency (kind of like peanut butter). If it’s too runny, add more icing sugar; if too stiff, more lemon juice or water, a teaspoonful at a time. If you want to keep it vegan, skip the egg whites and just use lemon juice.
For the house construction, you might want to trim the edges with a knife so they are straight and hold together better. Support the roof plates (prop a cup under the bottom edge) until the icing has dried a bit and they no longer slide off. When things are holding together, go to town with covering everything in icing “snow” and candies. “Icicles” at the corners of the roof can be achieved by dribbling runny icing down the edge.
***Lebkuchen-Spice (Neunerlei – Nine Spice)
Lebkuchen spice can be bought ready-mixed, but if you can’t get it, here’s my own blend that I made up from the ingredients list on the package. All the spices are ground.
Zest of 1 orange & 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp star anise
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp mace
1/4 tsp fennel
1/2 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp cardamom
To build into full-size cottage, multiply ingredients by approximately 500. Proceed as above, but build roof out of smaller tiles and use scaffolding for construction. In case of intrusion by marauding small children, keep phone number of child welfare services on hand to report the parents for abandonment.
*Hans-Jörg Uther, Handbuch zu den Kinder- und Hausmärchen der Brüder Grimm. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2013. p.13.
**recipe adapted from: Christian Teubner & Annette Wolter, Backvergnügen wie noch nie. München: Gräfe und Unzer, 1984.
A.M. Offenwanger is a writer, reader, blogger, and editor.
Follow her blog Amo Vitam
and on Twitter @amoffenwanger
and Facebook here

All Photos by A.M. Offenwanger

December 2, 2018

OF FROST AND FIRELIGHT: A Winter's Rhapsody - December 2018 Issue - Table of Contents

Enchanted Conversation
presents the
December 2018 Issue
A Winter's Rhapsody

By the glow of a fire, humans have gathered through the ages to share stories. When the long nights of winter set in, tales told by firelight let our imagination wander through the lyrical rhapsody of past fairy tales, legends, folktales, and myths.

In this issue, ten authors create stories set in the season of winter, where magic and frost mingle in the eternal dance of our human experience.

How do you melt a heart of ice?
What if all beauty disappears from the realm when you sleep?
Can revenge cause the frost to never touch you again?
Will fashion replace the blood duels of yore?
Who can stop Winter's heartbreak from holding back the other seasons?
Is reality the illusion you choose?

Plus more tales to share by the glow of the "virtual fire" of this magazine...

She will try to survive and
melt a heart of ice...
Rachael Lucas

Beauty never rests in this world...
Michael Mitchell, Jr.

A cloak of white Little Red now dons.
Beware the night...
Katherine Brown

Support human-fey relations
at this glamour-only event...
Laura Gregory

The white rain fell with a vengeance,
and the curse burned...
Kelly Komm

No man has visited in one hundred years,
and even then, he was invited...
Joshua Ian

The house had no roots. 
Forest touched it and felt its magic...
Carol Scheina

The bone white cat watched him.
"Well done, Godson..."
Trace Kerr

Dancing on the snow
leaves no footprints for reality to follow...
Amanda Bergloff

"With the winter lineage in your blood,
you don't understand who you are yet..."
Loie Dunn

to the written works in this issue belong to the individual authors.